April 27, 2008
04/27/08: William Jacobson, 19, Ithaca, NY
Nineteen-year old freshman William "Willie" Jacobson, an Ithaca College student in upstate New York, was last seen at a theme party at a house at 105 Grandview Avenue. He had been dressed as William Shakespeare at the party. His body was found three days later in a retention pond less than half a mile from the party.
According to Ithaca College, Jacobson was last seen around 4 a.m. April 27 in the backyard of a home in the city of Ithaca near the Hudson Heights Apartments. It was a theme party, and he had been dressed in a William Shakespeare costume consisting of white long-sleeved dress shirt, navy blue vest, black dress pants, and black dress shoes. He was seen walking away from the home. Officials say they believed he was planning on walking back to his dorm room on campus. Jacobson would have had to walk about a half-mile from the party back to get to his dorm (the Terrace 11 residence hall). His roommate reported him missing late Monday night. According to interviews with party-goers, Jacobson had been drinking during the theme event, but witnesses say he was not drunk. There is no indication he ran into any trouble with anyone at the party.
Nearly one hundred people were involved in the search for Jacobson. Rescue workers searched briefly Monday evening before darkness set in and then conducted aerial and ground searches Tuesday. Firefighters, police and volunteers trekked through the woods.Helicopters and ATVs joined in the ground searches. Friends set up a Facebook alert and posted flyers. A state dive team also searched two ponds on campus.
A State Police dive team found Jacobson’s body in a small 8-foot deep pond on Farm Road. Acting Ithaca Police Chief Edward Vallely said there were no visible injuries on the body. According to college spokesperson, Dave Maley, the retention pond is just down an embankment from a sidewalk that Jacobson could have been using to get home. It is conceivable that he tumbled into the pond, said Maley, but it is "too early to know exactly what happened." Jacobson still had his wallet and his cell phone with him.The pond is located on the route he likely would have taken to return to his Terrace 11 residence hall room.
A preliminary autopsy conducted on Thursday, May 1, by Dr. James Terzian of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton indicated the death was due to an accidental drowning. Police have ruled out foul play as the cause of death.
About Willie Jacobson
A resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, Jacobson, 19, was a writing major at Ithaca College. Jacobson had been a graduate of Central High School in St. Paul, MN, where he was a member of the student group Youth Against War and Racism.
Quick Facts:Name/age: William ("Willie") Jacobson (originally from St. Paul)
College: Ithaca College, Ithaca
Physical Description: white male, 5’9” tall, 165 lbs., thin build, black wavy hair, goatee. Wearing Shakespeare costume consisting of white long-sleeved dress shirt, navy blue vest, black dress pants, and black dress shoes.
Last seen: 4/27/08, sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 am
Cause of death: drowning
Manner of death: accident
Injuries: no signs of foul play or trauma
Air temperature: in the 40s
at 3:30 AM